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Campus Community Pulls Together to Help Students and Parents on Move-in Day

Nervous excitement filled the air, along with the chatter of hundreds of friendly, welcoming conversations, as the Old Dominion University family turned out en masse to welcome new students moving into ODU's residence halls.

Hurricane Irene took the weekend that ODU students usually use to move in and condensed it to a single, madcap day - Tuesday, Aug. 30. More than 4,600 new and returning students moved into ODU's residence halls. Fortunately, the ODU community applied the "many hands make light work" approach. Almost 300 faculty, staff and students volunteered their time to carry boxes, direct traffic or just be a friendly face for incoming freshmen - and parents dealing with mixed emotions.

After checking in at the Ted Constant Convocation Center, where she picked up keys and a welcome packet, Lori Zeppieri of Fairfax, Va., looked around the campus with daughter Jessie, a freshman who plans to major in business.

"It's a little tough, because she's my youngest," Zeppieri said. "But everyone has been so helpful today. It's been very well organized, and that's helped a lot."

Jessie, who's excited to attend Old Dominion because she has family in the area and because of the proximity to the beach, was disappointed to hear that her move-in date had been pushed back. But that did help in one way. "I totally wasn't finished packing," she said with a laugh.

The Constant Center was the first point of contact for freshmen. After being checked in, parents and students went to separate rooms. The students picked up their room key, while the parents received information about parking and financial aid, and were given an ODU shirt just for them, an initiative started this year by President John Broderick.

Because it was likely to be a long day, parents and students were also fed for free in three of the residence hall dining rooms, and volunteers mingled with the crowds outside each of the residence halls, helping the students move their belongings and handing out water and ice cream.

Beverly Forbes, director of experiential education with the ODU Career Management Center, welcomed students checking into one of the residences. She was happy to join the ranks of the volunteers for this very busy move-in day.

"I've been a part of the Old Dominion community for a long time, and I knew that because of Irene, we were going to need all hands," Forbes said. "It's important that students have a positive first impression. I've had nothing but good interactions. Everyone's ready and eager to get started. This is a good thing."

Dan Terrell, associate director with the Office of Housing and Residence Life, was just amazed by the commitment of the ODU volunteers. "The excitement of everyone who's pitched in to help is infectious," he said. "It's taken a difficult situation and helped make it an amazing experience."

Just in time for classes to start. A day later.

This article was posted on: August 31, 2011

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